Crowds Could Be Limited For Entire 2020/21
Tuesday, 28th Jul 2020 09:58
The entire 2020/21 football season could be played in front of limited crowds, a Government advisor has warned, with chanting and shouting seen as potential safety concerns.
Last week, it was confirmed that the Premier League and EFL campaigns would start on September 12th with prime minister Boris Johnson having previously said that the hope is that fans will be able to return to grounds in October.
Sunday saw the first in a series of pilot events aimed at bringing crowds back to sporting arenas in reduced numbers as Surrey took on Middlesex in a county cricket friendly at the Oval in front of 1,000 supporters.
Further pilot events are taking place this week at Edgbaston when Warwickshire will face Worcestershire, the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and the Goodwood horse racing festival.
However, Professor James Calder, the chair of a working group made up of government and health officials, says he doubts venues will be back to their full capacity before the end of the year and says that may remain the case for the whole of 2020/21.
"I would be very surprised if we could get full stadia back this year. Realistically I think it probably will need a vaccine and also a high take-up rate of that vaccine before we can really see full capacity stadia,” Professor Calder told BBC Sport.
“I think realistically we will be under scrutiny for the next year, certainly this side of Christmas and probably for the rest of the season.”
Professor Calder also says experiments are taking place to address whether chanting and singing can spread the coronavirus: "We need to know, actually, does it matter if you're shouting, how far will those droplets spread?
"At a football or a rugby match, the fans are going to be shouting and chanting and singing, I hope, and we need to be sure that the people in front of them are as safe as possible.
"Now if there is no massive droplet spread, well OK, we can keep within the social distancing that we've put down for, say, the Crucible and the Oval. But if it is a problem, then we need to rethink the social distancing within the stadia, and that becomes very difficult.”
Asked whether it was possible that sports where chanting is more likely could see crowds kept to more limited levels, he added: "Perhaps, I hope that's not going to be the case. But I think we need more information on it, and it's certainly something that we're conscious of.”
Yesterday, Town asked season ticket holders - the only fans who are likely to be able to attend matches at Portman Road in the opening months even in the best case scenario - to complete a survey as part of their preparations for the return of supporters.
The Blues have a little under 9,000 season ticket holders, all supporters who renewed from last year, three quarters of the 2019/20 total. Season tickets have not been put on sale to those without one last season. Portman Road currently has a capacity of just under 30,000.
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